Washington loses star defensive end
The Washington Huskies have announced that sophomore defensive end Hau’oli Jamora will miss the rest of the 2011 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Jamora was injured early in Washington’s 31-23 win over California on Saturday.
It’s a big blow to the Huskies defense. Jamora had emerged as Washington’s best pass rushing threat off the end and was tied for fifth on the team with 15 tackles. He also had three tackles for loss and one sack through four games.
Colorado plays at Washington on October 15th.
Arizona “gloomy”; Oregon State one of seven winless teams in FBS
Want to feel a little better, Buff fans? Then check out how the folks in Tucson and Corvallis.
An article in the Arizona Daily Star is entitled, “Flashy Ducks deepen ‘dark hole’ “, referencing the 56-31 beat down put on the Wildcats by Oregon last weekend. Some of the highlights:
“College football is not a game that plays nice. It feeds on young and inexperienced teams like Arizona and gives them little space and less time to recover. If you string together two or three substandard recruiting years, as Arizona has, you get stepped on.
“Down 35-9 at halftime Saturday, humbled and embarrassed, Stoops described the predicament in evocative terms.
” ‘We were either going to get better or fall in a dark hole,’ he said. ‘To me, it wasn’t an option.’ …
“The sobering truth is that Arizona doesn’t have enough good players to win much more than a game or two the rest of the conference season. How many of the Wildcats could start for Oregon? One man, receiver Juron Criner.
“Nobody else.” …
Although the immediate schedule isn’t as menacing as it has been (the Wildcats have played three straight top ten teams), Arizona isn’t equipped for the long haul. Stoops made a reference to the 3-8 UA teams he coached in 2004 and 2005 – he called them an unkind word that rhymes with bitty – which might’ve been a precursor to what some could soon be calling the 2011 Wildcats.
“Not pretty” …
“Thirteen years ago on the same turf where Oregon’s LaMichael James gained 288 yards Saturday, Trung Canidate ran for 288 yards as the Wildcats won their 11th game of the season, hanging 50 points on the Sun Devils. It was probably the greatest offensive performance by a Wildcat in the history of the old stadium.
“Arizona went 12-1 by deploying a lineup sprinkled with future NFL players Chris McAlister, Yusuf Scott, Marcus Bell, Dennis Northcutt, DaShon Polk and Edwin Mulitalo.
“There seemed to be no end to the thirst for Arizona football.
“Trung Canidate was LaMichael James. Arizona was Oregon.
“Arizona has since gone 63-84.
“And the future doesn’t look any better.”
Things don’t look any brighter in Corvallis, home to the Oregon State Beavers. For the only winless team in the Pac-12, Oregon State, it has been a rough few weeks. The Beavers opened with a loss to Sacramenton State from the Big Sky Conference, and things have gone downhill from there.
Even without all the injuries, Oregon State had issues, starting with both lines. But injuries have been a major problem for a team without a ton of depth: WR James Rodgers, TE Joe Halahuni, CB Brandon Hardin, DT Kevin Frahm, DT Dominic Glover (academics), RB Malcolm Agnew, OG Josh Andrews, etc. Then there was a surprising QB change from Ryan Katz, widely seen as an up-and-coming talent based on his 2010 performance, to redshirt freshman Sean Mannion. Further, a supposed team strength — the secondary — has been surprisingly poor, see a 119th ranking in passing efficiency defense. And the Beavers haven’t even played good passing teams yet.
Oregon State may be headed for its worst football season in at least 15 years but coach Mike Riley said Sunday he still believes in his team’s ability to win games and he said this is no time to panic.
OSU, 0-3, is one of seven winless FBS teams.
The Beavers, who lost their Pac-12 opener 27-19 to UCLA on Saturday, are off to their worst start under Riley and have lost five straight games and seven of their last eight going back to last season.
OSU is a 17 1/2-point underdog against No. 25 Arizona State in Saturday night’s game in Tempe.
Texas A&M move to SEC “unconditional”
Texas A&M is set to join the Southeastern Conference, the league said Sunday, apparently signaling that legal hurdles have been cleared for the Aggies to leave the Big 12.
The SEC announced Sunday that the move will be effective next July, and said Texas A&M will participate in all sports during the 2012-13 academic year. That gives the SEC 13 members and its first addition since South Carolina and Arkansas joined in 1992.
The Aggies’ defection from the Big 12 had been held up by the possibility of legal action from Baylor and other members, who would not waive their rights to sue the school and the SEC.
It’s unclear if the SEC will add a 14th member for next season or go with unbalanced divisions. Other rumored possibilities have included the Big 12′s Missouri and West Virginia of the Big East.
Texas A&M initiated the courtship in July, unhappy with rival Texas’ ESPN-operated Longhorn Network and setting off a tumultuous period for the Big 12.
The Aggies, who play Arkansas Saturday in Arlington, give the SEC entry into major TV markets such as Houston and Dallas.
“Texas A&M is a nationally prominent institution on and off the field and a great fit for the SEC tradition of excellence — athletically, academically and culturally,” Commissioner Mike Slive said in the statement.
Slive, Loftin and others will hold a news conference Monday evening in College Station, Texas. The press conference was scheduled in July, but had to be postponed after the threat of legal action forced everyone to take a step back.
While the move of A&M to the SEC set in motion a series of events which almost put Texas and/or Oklahoma into the Pac-12, the announcement that A&M is officially invited to the SEC is good news for those interested in stability for the Pac-12 conference. The move has already prompted Oklahoma to take a firmer stand with Texas with regard to media rights, and will likely lead to a withdrawal provision in the Big 12 which will make it more difficult for any team to leave in the future.
Withdrawal Policy for the Pac-12 – the “Hotel California” clause
While none of the present members of the Pac-12 have been invited to join another conference, and it does not seem likely that any current member would want to leave such a good thing, it might interest you to note that the withdrawal clause to the Pac-12 By-laws has some real teeth.
Here is Chapter 2, Section 3 of the Pac-12 By-laws:
“No member shall deliver a notice of withdrawal to the Conference in the period beginning on October 21, 2010, and ending on November 30, 2020; provided, that if any member does deliver a notice of withdrawal prior to November 30, 2020, in violation of this chapter, the Conference shall be entitled to an injunction and other equitable relief to prevent such breach, and if a court of competent jurisdiction shall deny the Conference such injunctive relief, the Conference shall be entitled to retain all the media rights of the member purporting to withdraw through July 1, 2023, even if the member is then a member of another conference or an independent school for some or all intercollegiate sports competitions. Additionally, if a member delivers notice of withdrawal in violation of this chapter, the member’s representative to the CEO Group shall automatically cease to be a member of the CEO Group and shall cease to have the right to vote on any matter before the CEO Group.”
Yup. If you leave, the conference gets all of your media money through 2023, even if you are a member of another conference.
Perhaps the Big 12 should adapt similar language to its By-laws. Call it the “Hotel California” clause … you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!
Below is an article by Matt Norlander from CBSSportsline. Norlander covers college basketball, but the article is so good, it bears reading in its entirety …
Texas, you are why we can’t have nice things.
Play time’s over, and the act which we’ve put up with for more than a year has gone from accepted distraction to obtrusive nuisance. You fooled us, fooled the Big 12, fooled yourselves for way too long.
Now we see it so clearly. Texas, a school with seemingly so many options and so much capital, can’t decide which conference it wants to be in — and can’t get a conference to covet it, either. It is one big black sheep, but it doesn’t even know it. Or at least it didn’t until late Tuesday night.
The Pac-12′s decision to stand pat was the biggest pie to the face any school has received since the first realignment Jenga brick was removed last summer. The Longhorns got absolutely embarrassed by Larry Scott’s conference. The presidents of those 12 schools opted to pass on inflating the league further because they knew Texas promised one thing but knew full well the demeanor would change once the Longhorns were accepted.
Get your house in order, Texas. We’re about through with you. This conference-expansion mishmash is all because of you, and it’s gotta end soon. For all your personality flaws, you started it and you get to end it. Swallow some pride and fix this because you bumped the boulder down the hill to begin with. I mean, the Pac-12 doesn’t want you. What does that say? A league that’s been relatively irrelevant in football and basketball for the better part of the past 20 years, save for one or two elite teams, just said you can’t hang in the treehouse. Ouch.
How’s that stiff-arm feel? That’s blunt-force karma, baby.
It’s so ironic — practically unbelievable — that conference realignment has come to this: a situation in which Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M are the only schools of impact that actually did the deed, that actually wanted to go somewhere and made it happen. Texas has so many qualities that any conference should want. But it’s got that baggage, too, in the form of the Longhorn Network — an idea once thought revolutionary but now is an albatross. It’s the single biggest reason — if not the single reason — the Longhorns won’t pay rent with the could-have-been Pac-16.
The obvious analogy is so very true. Texas is so beautiful. It’s that gorgeous girl with seemingly a whole lot to offer. But that girl’s also so snooty. Stuck-up. She looks really good from afar, but nobody really wants to get involved with her because she’s too demanding, makes things uncomfortable for others in the group and thinks she’s better than everyone else. Plus, she totally always sticks it to Texas A&M whenever she gets the chance.
Something like that. So now she’s forced to get back to the clique that can’t turn her way. The average-looking group of underachievers has their social overlord again. It has to be that way. This feels like the beginning of the end of a morally overwrought teen flick.
Texas wants to live by its own rules, but we’ve learned the only way for that to truly happen for the ‘Horns is to go independent. And that doesn’t look like a viable option. If it was, don’t you think it would have happened by now?
We now know you can’t jump from one conference to another with that sort of arrogance, either. At least not to a conference that knows what it’s doing and isn’t teetering on the edge of complete disassembly.
The Pac-12 saved the structure of major college sports because it had no emotional ties to Texas and Oklahoma, which was also packing up the car as late as dinnertime Tuesday night. Because of the Pac-12′s decision, it looks like frenetic energy around conference realignment is slowing down. That conference was the one which finally hit the pause button on the music and forced everyone into the chairs.
College basketball is better for it. The six-conference structure is absolutely optimal for the long-term sustenance of the sport. Now, there’s a Big 12 to be resuscitated, and what an awkward arrangement that’s going to be. Oklahoma hates Texas, but the two are stuck together. Heck, everyone hates Texas, but they’re all going to have to deal with it down there.
At least they better, because we can’t go through the motions again. Not this month, not next year, not the year after. I’ve never been so exhausted, confused and fed up by an offseason before. Please, Texas, spare us any additional expansion/retraction conference news for the next five years by accepting your role. Stay in the Big 12. Keep that conference together and even use your arrogance to lure one more member to get the league to 10 teams.
We’re well into the college football season, and college basketball officially gets underway in about three weeks. Let’s put off any more expansion news and just focus on the games already.
It’s all on you, Texas. You wanted to impact college sports in a way that had never been done before? Well, you have. And now you look awkward with that tail tucked, affecting your gait as you head back to the Big 12, a place you never left to begin with, no matter how hard you tried to convince us all otherwise.
Update – Scott: “I absolutely expect that we will stay at 12 teams for a long while”
“We could have expanded, but the deal didn’t make any sense at the end of the day for us, especially given the position that we are in,” Scott told ESPN Wednesday. “There is a very high bar. It’s hard to imagine very many scenarios for our conference to expand because the bar is so high.” And Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, were not able to clear that bar, a determination Scott made over the weekend, which he recommended to the Pac-12 presidents on Monday and Tuesday.
While some have blamed Colorado for blocking expansion, the decision to not expand was greeted favorably from all corners of the conference. Said Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, “I like the way the conference is now and I’m pleased the decision was made to keep it at 12 members.”
Said USC athletic director Pat Haden, “I don’t think there is any rush for us to get to 16.”
Scott also alluded to the core reason why expansion did not take place at this time, that the Pac-12′s condition for membership is non-negotiable: equal revenue sharing. Even if that means leaving money on the table. Said Scott, “An opportunity was turned down that could have generated more money for the schools but potentially could have torn apart the fabric of the culture of the conference.”
Take that, Texas Longhorn Network!
The big question, however, is the future: How long before expansion chatter again engulfs the conference? Is the Pac-12 merely playing a game of chicken with other programs?
Scott doesn’t see it that way, but he also maintains — as he has since the first wave of expansion in 2010 — that consolidation isn’t going away in big-time college football.
“I absolutely expect we will stay 12 teams for a long while,” he said. “But after what I’ve seen happen in the last year, I don’t think anyone could stick their neck out and make any definitive predictions.”
In other words, it’s not over …
Pac-12 to Texas: Take your TLN and go home
On Tuesday night, the Pac-12 decided it won’t expand further because commissioner Larry Scott failed to get assurance that Texas would back an equal revenue sharing plan if the league added the Longhorns, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Scott didn’t endorse expansion to the league’s presidents and chancellors.
The presidents never took a vote on the four Big 12 schools and the four schools didn’t formally apply for inclusion either, according to reports. The Pac-12 member presidents were on a conference call Tuesday night and reaffirmed the decision to stay at 12 members.
“After careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference,” Scott said in a statement. “While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve.”
Where does that leave Oklahoma, which appeared headed for the Pac-14, if not the Pac-16?
“We were not surprised by the Pac 12′s decision to not expand at this time,” Oklahoma President David Boren said. “Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the conference and we have kept them informed of the progress we’ve been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable in the future.
“Conference stability has been our first goal and we look forward to achieving that goal through continued membership in the Big 12 Conference.”
According to multiple sources, the Big 12 may now try to get long-term commitments of membership from its remaining nine teams.
Texas and Oklahoma officials are expected to meet in the next few days to negotiate an agreement to keep the universities in the league for at least the next five years, the Associated Press reported, citing a person familiar with the schools’ discussions. It was unclear Tuesday night whether other schools would be invited to join that meeting.
Now, with no Pac-16 available as an option, Oklahoma now has even more leverage in its negotiations with Texas … with Texas left to: 1) give in to the Sooners’ demands on revenue sharing; 2) try another conference, like the ACC; or 3) go independent.
Poor Bevo. None of those options look very attractive.
I can’t wait to see what sort of spin Orangebloods puts on this latest development …
Update – Oklahoma willing to stay in a “reformed” Big 12
From The Oklahoman … The Oklahoma Sooners might just be willing to stay in the Big 12 – provided there are some changes made … including the ouster of present Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, and the restructuring of the Texas Longhorn Network.
Oklahoma president David Boren said Monday the Sooners would decide soon between applying for Pac-12 membership or staying in the Big 12, and the source outlined the parameters for remaining in the Big 12. “It’s going to take major, major reforms” for OU, and thus Oklahoma State, to consider remaining in the Big 12, the source said. “We’d have to have an interim commissioner.”
The source said the league presidents do not believe Beebe responded with adequate leadership to Colorado’s, Nebraska’s and Texas A&M’s frustration. The Big 12 has lost three members in the last 15 months, and “the relationships were so bad (with) the commissioner,” the source said.
The other reform the Sooners demand is Texas and ESPN retreating on some its plans for the Longhorn Network. The UT/ESPN partnership angered Big 12 members on two counts: 1) the network reached an agreement with Fox Sports to move a conference game to the Longhorn Network; and 2) The Longhorn Network announced it would show high school highlights even after the conference voted to keep televised high school games off school-branded networks.
The source said it is not inevitable that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will go to the Pac-12, even though the OU regents support the move.
More and more (see story, below), it is looking like the ball is back in Texas’ court. It seems like the great Texas Longhorn Network, the $300 million deal Texas made with ESPN – just because the Longhorns felt they could – has backfired. If the Longhorns go to the Pac-12, they will have to give up the TLN. If the Longhorns stay in the Big 12, they will have to give up the TLN. If the Big 12 disintegrates beneath them, the TLN will have no value.
Your move, Bevo …
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State tied together; Oklahoma and Texas? Perhaps not
Oklahoma President David Boren, given authority by the Oklahoma Board of Regents to explore other conference options, said his focus is on either stabilizing the Big 12 through an equal revenue-sharing plan or taking Oklahoma to the Pac-12. Texas President Bill Powers, given similar authority by the University of Texas Board of Regents, hasn’t divulged Texas’ options, saying only that the process is “ongoing.”
“We’re almost like a family. Sometimes we don’t see things exactly the same way,” Boren said. “But while we like being rivals, we also like to work together when it’s appropriate and we’re continuing to have conversations with our friends at the University of Texas. And I think we’re always stronger when Texas and Oklahoma move together, just as we’re stronger when Oklahoma State and Oklahoma work together.”
While Texas and Oklahoma moving together is not a foregone conclusion, Oklahoma sticking with Oklahoma State appears to be a done deal. The Oklahoma State Board of Regents meet Wednesday, but that vote is a formality. “Whatever we do, we’re going to do it together and I think that’s very good news for the state of Oklahoma,” Boren said.
The Texas/Oklahoma relationship, though, is more complicated. “We have different perspectives,” Boren said. “I would put it this way: We’re listening with respect to each other at this point in time, but it’s too early to tell whether we’ll make a common decision or not.”
If the Big 12 is to survive, though, it’s clear that Texas will have to make concessions.
Boren has previously said he would consider the Big 12 a better option if it expanded back to 12 teams, and he said Monday that better revenue sharing must also be in place for the Sooners to stick around.
“Our goal is to be an equal partner in any network, and we think it ought to be the goal of every other member of any conference that we’re a part of to be an equal member of that conference,” Boren said.
“We all ought to value each other—every single member of that conference—and none of us should seek to play a stronger leadership role than anyone else.”
It’s sounding more and more like Texas, wherever it lands, will have to give up some – if not all – of its Longhorn Network deal with ESPN. If Texas goes to the Pac-16, the word is that they must – repeat must – go with equal revenue sharing. Now Oklahoma is saying that if they are to stay in the Big 12, that Texas must – repeat must – go with equal revenue sharing.
Way to paint yourselves into a corner, Longhorns!!
So, what is coming out of Austin?
Texas officials have said they want the Big 12 to hold together but would keep “all options” open for the university, including reported discussions with the Pac-12 and ACC. But Texas has little appetite for a Big 12 without rival Oklahoma or Texas A&M.
“Last time everybody talked about where everybody was going, we ended up staying in the same place,” Longhorns coach Mack Brown said. “So my thoughts have always been the same: I think the University of Texas wants to stay in the Big 12.”
And little brother Texas Tech?
Texas Tech president Guy Bailey said it’s a sensitive time and “any comments regarding Tech’s plans are premature at this time.” Tech’s regents are not scheduled to meet until next month.
Tough to be a Texas Tech or Oklahoma State fan right now … knowing that your team’s future in a BCS conference is 100% dependent upon the actions of your most hated rival.
Can you imagine having the Buffs’ fortunes exclusively dependent upon the actions of Colorado State? Shudder ….
Update – Oklahoma and Texas Boards of Regents okay discussions with Pac-12
While not a surprise, the University of Oklahoma’s board of regents and their counterparts at Texas granted their school presidents the authority to take action regarding conference realignment on Monday.
The moves clear the way for the Sooners and Longhorns to apply formally to the Pac-12, with whom they have been undergoing discussions in recent days on how to make the schools’ addition to the conference work.
After the regents meeting had adjourned, Oklahoma president David Boren admitted he’s had “very warm and constructive discussions” with Pac-12 officials, but wouldn’t say when the Sooners might apply for conference membership.
But Boren made it clear that OU had not notified the Big 12 Conference it was leaving and that remaining in the Big 12 was “still on the table.” He added, however, that the threat of litigation by other Big 12 members had not affected OU’s position of exploring realignment.
ESPN also put out a pod system different from what had been suggested earlier. While the pods with the northwest schools (Washington, Oregon, Washington State and Oregon State) and the Big 12 newcomers (Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State) would form two pods, Colorado and Utah, instead of being matched with the Arizona schools, would be in a pod with Cal and Stanford, with the Arizona schools teaming up with UCLA and USC.
Nothing done yet, but there is plenty of speculation. For Jon Wilner’s take, read on …
Wilner: Pac-12 not inviting Texas anytime soon
The latest from San Jose Mercury News columnist Jon Wilner, who has had better information on Pac-12 expansion than anyone.
- Texas-to-the-Pac is not happening in the next 24 or 36 hours, folks. It could be a week, or weeks. There are far too many issues still to be worked out, many of them involving UT’s ultimate willingness to make the concessions necessary to join the Pac-12.
Despite what you may have read, the school and the conference are “nowhere near any agreement,” according to one source. (That doesn’t mean a deal won’t be reached, only that there are several layers to the negotiations and it could take time.)
- RE: The Texas Longhorn Network … the Longhorn Network would have to be folded into the Pac-12 regional model — it wouldn’t exist as a separate entity.
What’s more, there is no chance that any school will have more than 1/16th of the revenue that comes from the conference’s first, second or third-tier rights. NO CHANCE. We’re more likely to see USC give up football and join the Big West.
Remember, the Pac-12 CEOs would like to have Texas, but they are not desperate to have Texas.
They have all the leverage.
- RE: Taking Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to create a Pac-14 … The Pac-12 would add the Oklahoma schools and become a 14-team conference even if Texas follows a different path.
And if the number is 14, there’s a very good chance the conference would use the Zipper model for division alignment (i.e., split the natural rivals). The league will not — I repeat: will not — pair USC and Oklahoma in the same division.
- RE: How a Pac-16 would ultimately work …
1. Divide the 16 teams into pods of four: the Northwest schools, the California schools, the Mountain schools and the Texas/Oklahoma schools (or the Kansas/Oklahoma schools). You’d play the three teams in your pod every year and two teams from each of the other three pods to form the nine-game league schedule.
2. Pair two sets of pods to create one eight-team division and two sets of pods to create another eight-team division.
3. Keep the pods together for two years to provide home-and-home scheduling, and then switch the pod pairings.
While I am adamantly opposed to having Colorado stuck in a Pac-16 eastern division made up of all the schools not in the original Pac-8, I’m okay with the pods. Having a “Mountain pod” consisting of Colorado, Utah, and the Arizona schools would actually put the Buffs in a pod containing teams which are on par with Colorado in terms of resources and history.
How the two championship teams would be determined, though, remains a mystery. According to an article in the Austin Statesman, the two team with the best conference records, regardless of pod or division, would play for the title.
Another option would be to have two pods aligned, at least on paper, into two divisions, and have the top division teams play for the title. The problem here: How would the divisions work? How would a division champion between say, the Mountain pod and the Midwest pod, be determined? As the teams would not all play each other (In the above scenario, Colorado would play Arizona, Utah, Arizona State, and then two teams from each of the other pods. That would give the Buffs (and everyone else) five games against the other seven teams in their “division”. I’m sure someone will come up with a tiebreaker system which will be as complicated as “passer efficiency rating” to determine division champions … one which will annually cause controversy.
Stay tuned …
Oregon receives Notice of Inquiry
Saturday, just before the Ducks took the field to take on the mighty Bears from Missouri State (no, I didn’t know the nickname, either. I had to look it up), the University of Oregon acknowledged that it had received a Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA with respect to Willie Lyles.
“This notice has been anticipated and is simply the next stage of the process,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement, acting as if such inquiries are routine. “The University of Oregon football program, from Head Coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA’s important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA’s ongoing examination.
The release pledged “full cooperation with the NCAA,” but Mullens added that “the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing any specifics on this matter.”
The notice formalizes the NCAA’s inquiry into the recruitment of former Ducks running back Lache Seastrunk, who recently transferred to Baylor.
Lyles had a close relationship with Seastrunk and also owned a scouting service, to which the Ducks paid $25,000 in 2010 for a “national recruiting package.” When Oregon released what Lyles provided the Ducks for that payment, it was mostly worthless, outdated profiles and information.
This past summer, Oregon hired outside counsel to deal with the NCAA investigation, which could drag on for months …
Stanford loses junior star linebacker
Stanford middle linebacker Shane Skov will be lost to the Cardinal for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Skov was injured Saturday night in Stanford’s 37-10 win over Arizona. “It’s a big loss for our football team, but we have great leadership on defense from players such as Michael Thomas, Delano Howell and Chase Thomas,” said Cardinal coach David Shaw, who didn’t provide details of the injury. “We’ve also recruited very well recently and now it is time for guys to step up.”
Skov was the leading tackler for the Stanford defense in 2010, and was the leading tackler in the early part of this season. Skov, from Guadalajara, Mexico, was a Pac-10 honorable mention performer last year after recording a team high 84 stops — including 50 solo tackles.
Texas to the Pac-12 back in the running …
Damn. Damn. Damn.
I had gotten to the point where I was willing to go along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in a Pac-14.
I was willing to listen to how a Pac-16 would work, with pod scheduling, with two other schools not named Texas.
But I was at least relieved that Texas to the Pac-12 didn’t seem to be an option.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
ESPN is reporting that Pac-12 officials are engaged in “active discussions” with Texas and Oklahoma about how to make the Big 12 schools’ addition to the conference work, a source within the Big 12 confirmed to ESPN.com’s Joe Schad.
Another source confirmed to Schad on Sunday night that Texas president Bill Powers met with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in Los Angeles this weekend. Texas officials traveled to California to watch the Longhorns game against UCLA.
Earlier, The Austin American-Statesman reported the Pac-12 was working out final details to add Texas and Oklahoma to the conference, along with fellow Big 12 schools Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. The Statesman cited a source close to the situation that stressed the deal is not yet complete, but that talks were “heating up.”
A source told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz the move to add Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State still has a long way to go before the Pac-12 leadership would be comfortable recommending it to the league’s presidents, who have made it clear to the league’s leadership that they don’t want to expand beyond 12 at this point.
The proposed deal would allow Texas to keep ESPN’s Longhorn Network, though The Statesman reports the network would have to add other Pac-12 programming to the network.
The new Longhorn Network, a 24-hour showcase for Texas athletics, has caused several Big 12 members to worry it gives the Longhorns too much power and influence, especially in the areas of exposure and recruiting.
“This is not yet a done deal,” a source familiar with the discussions told The Statesman, saying nothing had been definitively confirmed. “It appears that Scott is going to be able to work some magic and help Texas keep the Longhorn Network and their revenue stream.”
Texas Board of Regents also meeting on Monday
Anything you can do, I can do better …
Seems like Monday is going to be a busy day. The Oklahoma Board of Regents will be meeting on Monday (see story, below).
Now the Texas Board of Regents will be meeting on Monday as well. The telephone conference call will take place 3:00 p.m. (CT) with the following item on the agenda: “1. U. T. Austin: Discussion and appropriate action regarding delegation to act on matters related to athletic conference membership and contracting”.
Read into that what you will, but it seems like next week, the Colorado/Ohio State preview will not be the lead story on ESPN …
Oklahoma Board of Regents to meet on Monday
Well, the Pac-12 had a good run of, what, 2 1/2 months?
The Oklahoma Board of Regents is scheduled to meet on Monday, with the sole item on the agenda a potential move to another conference, along with the legal ramifications of such a move.
The agenda says the regents may discuss the topic behind closed doors and “take any appropriate action.”
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, president of the Big 12 board, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he and other university leaders “are working every day to hold the Big 12 together” but the next move is largely dependent on the Sooners.
Oklahoma president David Boren said earlier this month that OU had been in contact with multiple conferences and expected a decision within a three-week timeframe that would run out next week. One possible destination, of course, is the Pac-12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott says his conference isn’t actively pursuing expansion but also won’t sit by if the conference landscape is altered again.
Neither will Missouri, which had hoped last year to join the Big Ten before that league added Nebraska.
While Deaton professed conference unity, he also noted that “every member of the board’s primary commitment is to their own institution.”
Every man – er, school – for themselves.
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Okay, we’re getting into the silly season here.
If Oklahoma State joins the Sooners in forming the Pac-14, how would the divisions be split?
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has thrown out a few options:
First, you obviously can’t keep the old Pac-8 together with seven team divisions. So, the first option is a North-South split: Colorado would be in the South, along with the Arizona schools, the Oklahoma schools, and the Los Angeles schools, with Utah joining the Bay area schools, Washington schools, and Oregon schools.
The problem with a North-South split in Wilner’s view, is that USC and Oklahoma would be in the same division, creating an imbalance of national powers (Oregon and Stanford’s recent success notwithstanding). Of course, this would create the same problem the Big 12 South had since the league was formed: Texas and Oklahoma and everybody else playing for third.
The second option would be the return of The Zipper: Rivals would be divided, with all of the state schools divided into opposite camps (Colorado and Utah would be rivals for this scenario. This would lead to divisions looking like this: Colorado; Oklahoma; Arizona; UCLA; Cal; Oregon; and Washington State in one division, with Utah, Oklahoma State; Arizona State; USC; Oregon State; and Washington forming the other division.
Each team would play the six teams in its own division, and then have three rotating games within the other division (most likely with the “rivalry game” preserved, so Colorado would still play Utah every year, then do home-and-home every three years with the remaining six teams, similar to what was done when Colorado alternated its way through the old Big 12 South).
While the formation of a Pac-14 has its downsides, it would still be better for Colorado than a Pac-16, with the Buffs stuck in the eastern division with the Big 12 refugees, Utah, and the Arizona schools (and you can’t believe that the Arizona schools would be too excited about that, either).
So, we’ll just have to wait and see … again …
Texas begging Oklahoma to stay?
So much for leverage for the Longhorns …
Just a year after gaining almost every conceivable concession from its Big 12 brethren to stay in the conference, Texas is now getting a little payback. Now, its the Longhorns who have to go – ten gallon hat in hand – to other schools to try and keep its little fiefdom in tact.
The University of Oklahoma’s leadership is interested in a move to the Pac-12 from the Big 12, but such a move is far from a done deal, as the school’s overriding concern remains assuring a stable future for its athletic programs, a source told ESPN.
“There is strong interest within the leadership of Oklahoma about the Pac-12, really strong, but to characterize it as already (having) been done, well, that’s going too far,” said the source. “It is fair to say there is strong interest, but that doesn’t mean the Big 12 is not an option anymore. The concern is long-term stability.”
The Sooners don’t have a specific timetable for reaching a decision, according to the source, but there remains hope that one can be reached within three weeks. It’s not too late for the Sooners to make a move and be in a new conference in time for the 2012 football season, the source said.
The Sooners met with Texas officials Sunday in Norman, as was previously reported. But Oklahoma hasn’t officially made up its mind as to whether or not it would leave the conference, the source said.
Among the major factors weighing in Oklahoma’s decision are whether the Pac-12 would accept it as a member and whether the conference shows interest in growing to 16 teams.
“What is fueling the interest in the Pac-12 is the idea of stability. A year ago, while people were disappointed in the loss of two members (Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12), there was a structure put in place to make the league viable and everyone felt good about it,” the source explained.
That resolution, along with the new television contract signed last April with Fox and the knowledge that three years remained on the current contract with ESPN/ABC, made staying in the Big 12 more palatable.
Then Texas A&M opted to leave the Big 12 and apply to the SEC for membership, throwing the Big 12′s long-term future back in doubt.
“Texas A&M didn’t leave the Big 12 because the competition wasn’t strong enough or the financial model wasn’t good enough,” the source said. “All of those are in great shape. They’re leaving for other reasons.”
Jon Wilner’s take:
- There have been discussions between Oklahoma and Pac-12 officials, but nothing of a formal nature will happen until Texas A&M joins the SEC. Nothing. Larry Scott won’t make the first move toward superconference status.
In fact, Scott has positioned himself perfectly against potential super-conference backlash from fans, media, the NCAA or university presidents nationwide. He can always say, “We were happy at 12. We weren’t looking to expand. The SEC made the first move. Mike Slive has been the predator, not me.”
- My sense is that the ACC might be more accommodating to Texas’ demands — err, needs — in terms of logistics, revenue and TLN than the Pac-12. The Pac-12 won’t budge on its principles of revenue distribution and the planned network structure to satisfy any school.
Nor should it.
- The Oklahoma schools are almost certain to receive an invitation to the Pac-12 if they apply for admission. Multiple sources have told the Hotline that Scott believes the conference must expand — to 14 and perhaps 16 — in order to protect itself in the future when the SEC and Big Ten are both at 14+.
Despite grumbling from Colorado and others, Scott will have the votes he needs to add the Oklahoma schools.
And, the always entertaining Chip Brown from Orangebloods.com
Assuming Texas A&M goes to the SEC, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State opt for the Pac-12, what’s a Texas to do? …
So here are Texas’ options as of this moment, fully knowing the options could change in a heartbeat. But these are the options on the table at this moment after talking to UT sources:
Option 1 - Hold the Big 12 together. Texas wants the Big 12 to continue for all the reasons it wanted the Big 12 to stay together last summer. Rivalries, tradition, friendly travel for the student-athletes and, now, of course, the Longhorn Network.
The Longhorns are more committed than ever to LHN. It is better than UT officials ever imagined from a content, programming and branding standpoint, and it is contributing $5 million per year to academics for the first five years of the 20-year contract with ESPN.
But Texas sources indicate the Big 12 would not be salvageable if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were to come out of it. There does not appear to be interest by Texas in trying to bring in the likes of BYU, Pittsburgh, Louisville, TCU and Houston to keep the Big 12 going.
Option 2 – The Atlantic Coast Conference. Texas has been looking at the ACC as a potential home because ESPN holds the TV rights to the ACC and because ESPN holds the rights to LHN.
UT is hopeful an agreement can be worked out that would allow the Longhorns to hold onto their network and still share in conference TV revenue.
Texas would love it if OU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech would consider going east with Texas to the ACC, creating a four-team pod system in which most of their competition would be against each other (to reduce travel).
But OU and Oklahoma State don’t appear interested in that. So who else would the ACC attract to the league if OU and OSU were unwilling to go east? Texas Tech and a couple Big East schools (UConn/Syracuse/Rutgers)? At that point, Texas would be on an island in the ACC, which is unfavorable.
Option 3 - The Big Ten. It would take a lot of creativity for this to work and for UT to be able to hang onto LHN. And it’s a longshot. But the Big Ten wanted Notre Dame and Texas in the worst way. Jim Delany is going to have to think outside the box to attract Texas and/or Notre Dame.
The Big Ten would have to do something like allow Texas to hold onto the LHN and figure out some formula for UT to share some (if any) revenue from the Big Ten Network. How would the other Big Ten members feel about that?
Option 4 – Pac-12. The Longhorn Network definitely gets re-worked in this scenario, and the Pac-12 has the most restricting “all rights in” agreements in all of the BCS.
Before Larry Scott got to the Pac-12, that conference was so bad at maximizing dollars under Tom Hansen that Scott got the schools to turn over their rights to Tier 1, 2 and 3 television as well as the school’s web sites.
Scott vowed to turn it all into a windfall of cash, and he has – to the tune of $3 billion in TV contracts with Fox and ESPN. But for Texas, joining the Pac-12 would be going from a free-market economy to socialism.
But if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are in the Pac-12 (and Texas Tech is praying for the Pac-12), Texas might bite hard and give up some of its revenue to be in a league with some of its long-time rivals.
Last summer, Texas president Bill Powers was chomping to get to the Pac-12 and had to be talked out of it by the likes of DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky to hold the Big 12 together and give the Longhorn Network a chance.
Now, you can look back and question who was right. But as long as Bill Powers is the president at Texas, the Pac-12 will be an option for Texas because he likes the ideas of UT rubbing shoulders with academic powers like Stanford and Cal.
There is a lot of consternation about how the teams in the Pac-12 would be aligned if the Pac-12 grew to 14 or 16 teams. Everyone wants to be in the same division with USC and UCLA so they are guaranteed trips to southern California for recruiting purposes.
Larry Scott might have to get creative to make everyone happy – if that’s possible.
Option 5 - Independence. This really is not an option in the minds of Texas officials. They will not go independent.
There are options that may not have even been thought of at this point. But those appear to be the options at the moment.
So, clear as mud. Your guess is as good as any of the above pundits …
SEC looking at a schedule with 13 teams?
At a speaking engagement Monday night in Birmingham, Alabama, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said, “In the 78-year history of the SEC, the conference had accepted the membership applications of only two institutions – Arkansas and South Carolina. Texas A&M is now the third.”
But Slive added, “We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC and have started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving 13 teams.”
Oklahoma/Texas reportedly meeting
According to ESPN, a person with knowledge of the situation says Texas and Oklahoma officials met over the weekend amid speculation that the Sooners are considering leaving the Big 12.
Texas president William Powers Jr., athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky were among a group of Texas officials who went to Oklahoma on Sunday, according to a person at a Big 12 school who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the meeting. The person also said Oklahoma president David Boren was present.
Now, according to Chip Brown at Orangebloods, the unofficial spokesman for the Texas athletic department …
“Oklahoma will apply for membership to the Pac-12 before the end of the month, and Oklahoma State is expected to follow suit, a source close to OU’s administration told Orangebloods.com.
“Even though Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Friday the Pac-12 was not interested in expansion at this time, OU’s board of regents is fed up with the instability in the Big 12, the source said.
“The OU board of regents will meet within two weeks to formalize plans to apply for membership to the Pac-12, the source said.”
Going on to say …
“Texas sources continue to indicate to Orangebloods.com that if the Big 12 falls apart, the Longhorns would consider ‘all options.’
“Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe held an emergency conference call 10 days ago with league presidents excluding Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M and asked the other league presidents to “work on Texas” because Beebe didn’t think the Pac-12 would take Oklahoma without Texas.
“Now, it appears OU is willing to take its chances with the Pac-12 with or without Texas.
“There seemed to be a temporary pause in any possible shifting of the college athletics’ landscape when Baylor led a charge to tie up Texas A&M’s move to the Southeastern Conference in legal red tape. BU refused to waive its right to sue the SEC over A&M’s departure from the Big 12, and the SEC said it would not admit Texas A&M until it had been cleared of any potential lawsuits.
“Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State have indicated they will not waive their right to sue the SEC.
“It’s unclear if an application by OU to the Pac-12 would draw the same threats of litigation against the Pac-12 from those Big 12 schools.”
In other words, Oklahoma and Texas continue to posture … but there is no new actual news. Chip Brown may have inside information as to what Texas is thinking, but he doesn’t know what Oklahoma will do.
Larry Scott: Pac-12 happy with just 12 members
The Pac-12 is not interested in participating in conference expansion, according to commissioner Larry Scott. “Our hope is that there is no expansions and all conferences that are at 12 stay at 12. That would be our vote,” Scott said Friday. “We’re very happy where we’re at and we’ve got a lot to do over the next year.”
“We haven’t spent one minute thinking about going further, that’s not our desire,” Scott said. “It’s when all this discussion started happening in the Big 12 and it seems like the SEC is going to go beyond 12 and teams started approaching, let’s take a step back and look at the future — if the landscape is going to change.”
The Pac-12 signed a TV deal worth about $3 billion with Fox and ESPN, and plans to launch its own network next year. Scott said the conference did look at various models while trying to expand last year, including the possibility of a 16-team megaconference, and has provisions in the TV deals if expansion occurs.
- CU head coach Jon Embree’s son, Tyler, is making a name for himself. The UCLA senior tight end, with five catches (for 60 yards) against Houston moved Embree into the top ten on the all-time UCLA receptions list.
- Stanford, has nine consecutive wins, the fourth-longest streak in school history. – Washington now has a five game winning streak, tied with Oklahoma for the fifth-longest current streak in the nation, behind only Auburn (16), Stanford (9), Nevada and Ohio State (7).
- Oregon State had a school-record eight true freshmen play in the season-opener. That’s not just a single-game record, it’s a single season record for the Beavers.
- Washington State lost its starting quarterback, Jeff Tuel to a fractured clavicle, on Tuel’s third play of the season. Senior backup Marshall Lobbestael stepped in, completing 14-of-19 for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ 64-21 rout of Idaho.
- USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley set a school record with 34 completions (in 45 attempts) in the Trojans’ 19-17 victory over Minnesota.
- Oregon has reinstated linebacker Kiko Alonso for the home opener against Nevada. Alonso was suspended “indefinitely” after he broke into a stranger’s home in May, and was discovered sleeping in a bed there. Alonso missed all of last season after being suspended for unrelated alcohol offenses.
- Future CU opponent Ohio State will play again this weekend without three players suspended for taking $200 at a charity event this summer. Starting tailback Jordan Hall, along with cornerback Travis Howard and backup safety Corey Brown will miss Saturday’s game against Toledo.
And something to keep an eye on …
Next fall, Colorado goes on the road to play another mid-major BCS conference killer, Fresno State. The Bulldogs, though, may be without several players next season …
It’s being reported that as many as two dozen football players from Fresno State University have been implicated in a welfare fraud investigation involving a county Department of Social Services worker accused of filing for false benefits for them and others.
The social services eligibility specialist was arrested last month by an investigator with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office but has not been charged. University officials have declined to comment beyond a written statement, saying they don’t want to impede the investigation.
“It’s an ongoing investigation out of the DA’s office. We don’t comment on ongoing investigations, and that’s what we’re standing on,” said Paul Ladwid, assistant athletic director.
The allegations involve members of the 2010 squad, and many are still on the team this year. The university said in its written statement that “violations of the Code of Conduct did occur and punitive actions have been levied upon a number of current student-athletes.”
The athletes could face additional penalties once the investigation is complete.
School officials would not say how many implicated students are on the 2011 team, nor would they describe the scope of the punishment.
“Student-athletes were among the individuals that received benefits from this process, perhaps improperly,” the university’s written statement said.
UPDATE No. 2: It’s all up to Oklahoma now …
Okay, ready for update No. 2?
As far as the have nots in the Big 12 are concerned, if Oklahoma is willing to stay in the Big 12, then Texas A&M can go to the SEC without a fuss.
If the Sooners leave, however, then six schools are withholding their rights to sue Texas A&M for breaking up their league, and costing them millions.
Baylor was among six Big 12 schools that will not sign a waiver to allow Texas A&M to go to the Southeastern Conference following a meeting of the Big 12 presidents Wednesday afternoon, a source close to Baylor told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
The other schools were Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Missouri.
If Oklahoma reaffirms its commitment to the Big 12, the schools are expected to sign the waiver that would allow the Aggies to go to the SEC without any legal action. The Sooners, who are reportedly considering a move to the Pac-12, are expected to make their decision within the next two weeks.
Here is a statement issued Wednesday afternoon by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe:
‘This is the first time to my knowledge that a conference has been requested to waive any legal claims toward another conference for any damages suffered with a membership change.
“The Big 12 Conference was asked by Texas A&M University and the Southeastern Conference to waive any such claim to help facilitate Texas A&M’s departure from the conference without any consideration to the Big 12. Although they were not obligated to do so, the Big 12 Board of Directors decided to accommodate that request as it relates to The Big 12 Conference Inc., which is reflected in the Sept. 2 letter sent to SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
“However, the waiver did not and could not bind the individual member institutions’ governing boards to waive institutional rights. If the departure of Texas A&M results in significant changes in the Big 12 membership, several institutions may be severely affected after counting on revenue streams from contracts that were approved unanimously by our members, including Texas A&M.
“In some cases, members reasonably relied on such approval to embark on obligations that will cost millions of dollars.”
So, Sooners, do you want to head off to the Pac-16 – and potentially be the school to get sued by the weak sisters of the old Big 12?
Or … Do you stick around in a league being picked apart at the edges (the league would be down to nine teams if Texas A&M is allowed to leave), and make your peace with Texas and the Little Seven?
Stay tuned …
UPDATE No. 1: “Texas A&M is a great school, but we don’t’ want to involve ourselves in any legal action”
It might be more than Baylor (see this morning’s story, below) who doesn’t want to let A&M ride off into the SEC without a fight.
The gist of the Aggies’ problem:
- On September 2nd, the SEC and Big 12 exchanged “hold harmless” letters, in essence saying that there would not be any lawsuits if Texas A&M left for the SEC.” We both agreed it is in the best interests of each of our conferences and our member institutions of higher education to waive any and all legal actions by either conference and its members resulting from admission of Texas A&M into the SEC, as long as such admission is confirmed publicly by September 8, 2011,” wrote Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
Now, however, that letter has been made subject to two different interpretations.
- Texas A&M and the SEC interpretation: “(The SEC) thought it was clear and free without any possible issues. That is not what happened,” one insider told ESPN.
- The Baylor (and perhaps other future Big 12 refugees’ interpretation: The September 2nd letter was not intended to waive the rights of individual schools to sue and that decisions like that need approval from various boards of regents and other university overseers, according to an ESPN source. “That certainly is not going to happen soon. You are not going to get all nine. You might get some,” that person told the AP. “Very few, if any, are willing with the uncertainty and instability of the Big 12 at this point to release their claims.”
In a text message, Texas Tech’s Bailey confirmed that the university’s board of regents would have to waive the school’s right to pursue legal action. He also said Big 12 members were planning a conference call later Wednesday.
So, the SEC got the letter it thought it wanted, publicly invited Texas A&M to join its conference, and …. limbo.
Mississippi chancellor Dr. Dan Jones said the SEC felt the Big 12 letter offered clear legal standing. “It’s in the hands of Texas A&M and the Big 12,” Jones said. “We’ve been clear that we’d be happy to receive them if they’re unfettered of obligations. We gathered to have a vote. We had a letter that clearly gave us legal clearance. It was frustrating to be gathered and then have things pulled out from under Texas A&M like that. We’re disappointed for Texas A&M.”
But the league doesn’t want to wage a court battle for the Aggies.
“Texas A&M is a great school, but we don’t’ want to involve ourselves in any legal action over all of that,” said David Williams, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics.
He added that “all 12 schools are together on that statement.”
Stay tuned …
Texas A&M invited to SEC, but not yet
The latest domino of conference expansion has fallen … perhaps.
The member presidents of the Southeastern Conference unanimously voted to accept Texas A&M Tuesday night as the league’s 13th member, but the Aggies’ official acceptance has been delayed by the potential threat of legal action.
The SEC’s presidents want assurances that no individual Big 12 school will sue for contractual interference over Texas A&M’s departure. Baylor has not given that assurance to this point, according to ESPN.
Here is the entire statement issued by Florida president Bernie Machen, chair of the Southeastern Conference presidents and chancellors board, on Texas A&M’s (contingent) acceptance into the SEC:
“After receiving unanimous written assurance from the Big 12 on September 2 that the Southeastern Conference was free to accept Texas A&M to join as a new member, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met last night with the intention of accepting the application of Texas A&M to be the newest member of the SEC.
“We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action.
“The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure. The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011.”
A celebratory press conference at Texas A&M to announce the move to the SEC has been postponed …
Texas to Pac-16 down from “50-60 percent” to “20 percent”
Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, a/k/a the unofficial mouthpiece of the Texas athletic department, is now reporting that the likelihood of Texas joining the Pac-16 lessened over the weekend.
According to Chip:
“It appeared at that point like momentum was gathering for Texas to also head west in a reunion with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, one year after Scott attempted to entice half the Big 12 to join his league. A source close to Texas put the chances of UT going to the Pac-12 at “50 to 60 percent” on Friday night and had those odds increasing as of Saturday. But on Sunday, those percentages dropped to “20 percent,” according to the source, because Texas wanted to explore ways to hold onto the Longhorn Network.
“Texas would have to give up LHN if it went to the Pac-12, which has equal revenue sharing and pools its third-tier TV rights in a series of regional networks. The $300 million, 20-year contract Texas signed with ESPN has become important to UT’s board of regents, sources said, because in an age of higher education cutbacks, UT athletics is contributing $5 million per year to academics in the first five years of the deal.
“If Texas went to the Pac-12, LHN would have to be re-worked so that Texas would share revenue with a partner in a regional network (possibly Texas Tech) as well as the Pac-12, forcing the Longhorns to give up much of their unique branding and riches.”
(Yahoo! Let’s hear it for Texas greed!!)
Chip went on to hint that Texas might even look into – wait for it – the Atlantic Coast Conference:
“Holding the Big 12 together, no matter how dysfunctional, is still UT’s top priority, sources said. Even football coach Mack Brown weighed in on Monday, saying he wants players’ parents and Texas high school coaches to be able to see their players in Big 12 games played all over the state of Texas.
“But if the Big 12 comes apart, another way for Texas to hold onto LHN may be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, two sources close to the situation said Monday. ESPN holds the TV rights in the ACC and also owns and operates LHN.
“But the ACC would only come into play if Oklahoma left for the Pac-12 and the Big 12 busted up, sources said.
“One source close to the situation said the ACC, which is trying to fend off a potential raid by the Southeastern Conference (Virginia Tech continues to be mentioned by sources as an SEC target), would possibly look to add Texas, Syracuse, Connecticut and Rutgers to grow to 16.
“Sources say Missouri has received feelers from the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and Big East. Kansas has also received feelers from the Pac-12 and Big East, sources said. Kansas State has also received feelers from the Big East, sources said.
” ‘It’s getting messy,’ said a Big 12 athletic director.”
No kidding ….
Pac-16 looking more and more likely …
The headline in the Oklahoman did not mince words, “OU’s sole focus now on joining Pac-12“. Oklahoma president David Boren stepped out of a cloak of secrecy Friday and said the Sooners were being proactive in deciding their conference future, had interest from multiple conferences and expected to make a decision soon, from 72 hours to two weeks.
“We’re at the sensitive point of discussions among schools,” Boren said.
Where Oklahoma goes, so likely goes Oklahoma State. “We are in close communications with our colleagues at the University of Oklahoma and expect a decision soon that will be in the best interest of our institutions and the state of Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis. Another highly-placed OSU source said of the Pac-12, “I think probably the way it’s going to go. OU and OSU have to stick together.”
Even Boone Pickens, the multi-billionaire who has been financing the rise of the Cowboys – at least in terms of facilities – seems to be conceding that a move west is in the works. “If you can’t fix Big 12, you might as well go west,” Boone Pickens told an Oklahoma City reporter.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, at least for now, is not making any comments about what will happen. “I will say schools have reached out to us,” Scott said Saturday shortly before the start of the LSU-Oregon game here. “We are not doing anything proactively.” Scott went on to say, “schools have called us. We certainly are going to listen.”
A Pac-12 expansion to 16 teams could usher in the era of the super conference in college athletics.
The Pac-12 locking up Texas and Oklahoma, two of the most famous brands, in college sports would almost assure it. There already has been speculation that the combination of the new Pac-12 agreement ($3 billion, 12 years with ESPN/Fox) and the new Pac-12 Network could mean an annual $30 million to each member school.
Other conferences — notably the SEC and Big Ten — would almost have to react to the Pac-12′s move.
“I’ve also been clear,” Scott reminded, “that there will probably be further expansion at some stage.”
Sunday, however, there was at least a ray of hope for those of us who do not want any part of Texas in a Pac-16.
The Texas legislature to the rescue?
Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, who was the mouthpiece for the Texas athletic department last summer when conference expansion was on the front page of every sports section in the nation, is saying that “Legislators and statewide office holders have swung into high-pressure mode to get Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds to slow down any decision that might involve the Longhorns joining the Pac-12″.
“We don’t want any hasty decision being made that hasn’t been well thought out,” one lawmaker told Orangebloods.com on Sunday.
Sources said the reason lawmakers are hot is that they received assurances from the Big 12, including Powers, that the Big 12 would survive without Texas A&M.
And because of those assurances, lawmakers did not take an aggressive stand against Texas A&M withdrawing from the Big 12. But that may be changing.
Sources said members of the Legislature are or will be reaching out to Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to tell him the Aggies may no longer have the blessing of lawmakers to leave the Big 12, especially if it looks like the Big 12 will collapse.
A source in the Big 12 says there is also an increasing likelihood of litigation against the Southeastern Conference as well as the Pac-12 if the Big 12 comes apart.
In other words, it’s about to get messy.
Orangebloods.com reported Friday night that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe held an emergency conference call Friday afternoon with Big 12 presidents – excluding OU’s David Boren, UT’s Bill Powers and A&M’s Bowen Loftin. The purpose of the call, sources said, was to get the rest of the Big 12 to “work on Texas” and keep the Longhorns in the league.
It’s Beebe’s belief that Oklahoma wouldn’t be accepted into the Pac-12 without Texas, sources said. But sources have told Orangebloods.com Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott would take OU and Oklahoma State with or without Texas.
If you have the ear of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, now would be the time to let him know that the Buff Nation does not want any part of a Pac-16 with Texas and Oklahoma.
The almost inevitable split of a new Pac-16 would create two eight team divisions (pods notwithstanding). The old Pac-8 would be re-created as the “western” division, with the four California schools, the Oregon schools, and the Washington schools. This would leave the “eastern” division of the Pac-16 to be made up of the Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah, Texas and Texas Tech, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Colorado would be right back where they were in 2010, looking up at Texas and Oklahoma. What good would $25-$35 million in television revenue do for a Colorado program competing with a Texas program, which would be bringing in $100-$120 million per year?
Also, what would become of the benefit Colorado fought so hard for, namely to have a trip to southern California every season? The Buffs fought hard for a Pac-12 South berth, earning a trip to either UCLA or USC each season. With a Pac-16 – especially if the Buffs are forced into a Pac-16 East with the four newcomers – that opportunity would be lost.
Texas and Oklahoma to the Pac-16 would actually bring back memories of the old Big Eight. Instead of the “Big Two and Little Six” consisting of Nebraska and Oklahoma and everybody else, it would become the “Big Two and Little Six” consisting of Texas and Oklahoma and everybody else.
Back to the Future?
More on conference expansion / Pac-12 Network
So, you want the good news first, or the bad news?
Let’s start with the bad.
Jon Wilner, who was the lead writer in all things concerning expansion and the launching of the Pac-12 Network, has posted an article indicating that the Pac-12 is indeed talking with both Texas and Oklahoma about expansion.
Some of the highlights:
“Yes, there have been discussions between the Pac-12 and Texas and Oklahoma, according to sources. Whether that means Larry Scott and UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds have spoken directly, I cannot confirm. But whether it’s Scott, deputy commish Kevin Weiberg (who used to run the Big 12) or one of the league’s media consultants on one end of the phone … and Dodds, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione or ESPN officials on the other … the lines of communication are open.
“That does not mean the Sooners and Longhorns are on the brink of joining the Pac-12 — not by any stretch. The Big 12 could very well remain intact for a few years. Something else to keep in mind: Everybody is talking to everybody right now … covering their bases, making contingency plans … because if the Big 12 does implode, it will be utter chaos.”
There was also this … “The Big 12’s pursuit of Notre Dame, Arkansas and BYU is mostly a smoke screen – a chance for commissioner Dan Beebe to show he’s being proactive. I have been told by several sources that BYU is very happy with its status as a football Independent and having its Olympic sports in the West Coast Conference – the school and the league share many of the same values. It’s extremely unlikely that BYU would pull its teams out of the WCC.”
And this … ” Over in the SEC, where expansion would enable the league to re-work the league’s TV contracts … One source said the conference is targeting Missouri as the 14th member, which makes tons of sense based on what I’ve been told – and have mentioned on the Hotline.
“Commish Mike Slive’s approach to expansion is this: Only new states. The conference is only interested in expanding its footprint, and Missouri is the nation’s 18th most-populous state: Approx 6 million people means approx 2 million TV households. Ching-ching-ching.”
And so it goes …
Now, for the good news
In an article for the Seattle Times, Bud Withers spoke to AJ Maestas of Navigate Marketing about the possibilities for the Pac-12 Network. (Side note: Maestas, who worked on the Big Ten Network contracts, projected last fall that the Pac-12 Network would be in the range of $172 million per year, just enough to keep USC and UCLA from getting paid extra. As we now now, that estimate was far short of the $250 million/year the league will be receiving over the next 12 years).
This time around, Maestas is not being pessimistic about the Pac-12. “Off the top of my head, four years from today, I would not be surprised if the Pac-12 schools saw $12-15 million distribution (each) from the Pac-12 Networks,” Maestas said. “The truth is, it could actually be 30-40 percent higher than that.”
If true, the average of $21 million per team from the network contracts could be swelled considerably, much more than the extra $4-6 million which was being projected when the Network was first announced.
Why the optimism? First, Pac-12 Networks have already lined up four partners – Comcast, Time-Warner, Cox and Bright House – that already reach 40 million homes. So if Pac-12 Networks launched today, it’d be No. 11 in the country in sports networks for distribution (No. 1 on the list, ESPN, is just over 100 million homes. No. 8 on the list, the NFL Network, though, is at 56.9 million).
While Maestas says the 40-million start is a robust number, he adds, “In 12 months, I think they’ll easily pick up another 20-25 million households.”
All that would do is vault the Pac-12 Network saturation past any of the pro leagues’ networks. Remember, the conference hasn’t even gone to DirecTV or the Dish Network yet – or all the other cable carriers out there.
Two aspects of Scott’s network apparatus set it apart from the Big Ten Network. First, the league is sole owner of the rights. On the other hand, the successful Big Ten Network partnered with Fox, which owns 49 percent. The Big Ten thus took less risk. But the Pac-12 Networks won’t merely have water polo games between Stanford and USC. Scott, in making the Fox/ESPN deal, promised 36 football games – three a week – and 120 men’s basketball games for the network. So the league will be offering some high-end stuff.
So, Colorado will be going from $7 – $10 million in media rights as a member of the Big 12 to perhaps $30 – $35 million per year as a member of the Pac-12.
Remind me again why anyone in the Pac-12 would want Texas in the Pac-16? This is especially true for Colorado, which knows what it is like to live in a league where the top dog was already bringing in over $90 million per year – before the Longhorns signed their $300 million deal with ESPN for the Texas Longhorn Network.
Bring in Texas, and Colorado – and most of the rest of the league – is back to playing the role of Sisyphus, condemned to keep pushing the rock up the hill in at an attempt to keep up with the Longhorns … only to have the rock roll back down to the bottom of the hill again and again.
Larry Scott weighs in on latest expansion talk
Before the Pac-12 had the chance to play its first ever game as a new conference, there is talk of further expansion.
The defection of Texas A&M from the Pac-12 has sparked a new round of speculation (see August 31st story, below). Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who tried to expand the Pac-10 into 16 teams last year, has certainly not given up on the concept.
Yesterday, Scott issued the following statement:
“Our sole focus has been on developing the tremendous opportunities we have as a new, 12-team Conference and we have no current plans to expand the Pac-12,” Scott said. “However, I have made clear my vision that the health, stability and future of college athletics will likely include further consolidation and realignment. While I can not predict if and when this might make sense for us, we will listen to and evaluate any scenario that would benefit our member institutions, our student-athletes and our fans.
“In the meantime, we are pleased to be in a strong leadership position in academics and college athletics, with both a rich heritage of success and recent moves that have greatly strengthened our Conference and positioned us well for the future.”
Read into that what you will, but a Pac-16 cannot be ruled out.
In fact, it may be coming sooner rather than later …
USC Defensive Backs coach resigns two days before season opener
From the Los Angeles Times:
Willie Mack Garza, USC’s secondary coach, has resigned, citing personal reasons “unrelated to USC.”
“I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC,” Garza said in a statement. “I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won’t be with them in what I know will be a very successful season.”
USC is in final preparations for Saturday’s season opener against Minnesota at the Coliseum.
Garza was not at practice Thursday morning. Asked afterward why Garza was absent Coach Lane Kiffin said, “Willie’s dealing with a personal issue. That’s all I can say.”
Asked if he was still a member of the staff, Kiffin reiterated that Garza was dealing with a personal issue. “At this time, right now, that’s all that I can say.”